William and Bessie

Remember William? If you didn’t read my earlier posts about William, you should. I think his life must have been quite interesting, although he likely didn’t think it so special. He married, moved to Florida, became a widower, and moved back to PA. You can read about it all in these three posts:

William’s Beginnings in Lancaster

Orange Groves and a Ghost Town

Cousins and Spouses

After William became a widower, he married his cousin’s widow, Bessie. Here’s a newly found photo of William and Bessie.


Photo courtesy of Ronald Parmer Scott

This photo was likely taken at William’s brother’s, Luther’s, home in Highland Township, Chester County, PA. Notice William holding a croquet mallet and ball. I love seeing little bits of insight into their lives by that little detail. It helps to relate to their lives. I imagine a family gathering much like today–food, games, fun times. The photo is from an album whose photos were taken in 1924-1926. That helps narrow down possible dates for when William and Bessie were married. Notice also that William has his tie tucked into his shirt. He’s wearing the tie like that on another photo at Orange Groves and a Ghost Town. My research found that others during that time period had photos taken with their ties tucked in. Although I couldn’t find a lot of information about tucked in ties during that time period, I did discover that soldiers wore their ties tucked in when they didn’t have a jacket on. I’m happy to have this moment in history preserved and available for us to enjoy.

Samuel, Son of Samuel

Samuel E. Parmer was born August 22, 1874.  That’s what his death certificate says, as well as his headstone.  Some records indicate he may have been born in 1875.  It’s so hard to pinpoint birthdays for that time period!  I’m going with 1874.  His marriage certificate says he was born in Mount Sidney, East Lampeter.

Samuel E. is the fifth child of Samuel M. and Hetty Ann.  His brother John Jacob was 7 years old while his sister Martha was just 10 months old.  William would have been almost 5 and Margie almost 3 years old.  Hetty was a busy mother!

Undoubtedly named after his father, Samuel M., Samuel E’s middle name is Elwood, as shown on his World War I draft registration card, which interestingly lists his birthday as 1873.  In 1918 when the card was completed, he was medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and black hair.


More posts on Samuel E. are coming.  Do you know anything about Samuel E. Parmer?  If so, please share in the comments or the Contact page.  We would really like to get to know him!

A Granddaughter’s Memories, and A Great Granddaughter’s

Who was a messenger, a salesman, a dishwasher, an umbrella factory worker, a taxi driver, a stamp collector, and a veteran of the Great War?

That is Herbert H. Parmer, born June 21 1895 to William Eckman Parmer and Emma J. Howe.

Herbert H Parmer

Herbert H. Parmer.  Photo courtesy of Sarah (Parmer) Constein

The earliest record I could find for Herbert is the 1900 census, which shows him at 4 yrs old with his parents at 29 Dorwart Street.  The current home at that address was built in 1910, so it wouldn’t be the home he lived in.

The 1910 Census taken April 22, 1910, shows him at 14 years old living at 507 Green St., which is the address where his family lived for many years.  He had not attended school during the September 1, 1909 school year, but he was employed and is recorded as not being out of work at all in 1909.  He was working in an umbrella factory.  I can’t make out what his type of work was at the factory.  Can you read it in the image below in the first column?

herbert h job in 1910

A year later, in the 1911 city directory, he was listed as working as a messenger.  He would have been 15 years old.  The directory lists his address, 507 Green St., which is likely where he lived until he married.  It’s interesting to note that at 15 years old, he is listed like an adult in the city directory, along with his 17 and 20 year old brothers and his parents.  What a difference it would be today!

On June 23, 1916, Herbert H. enlisted in the National Guard at the age of 21.  He was in Co K 4 Inf PA National Guard until August 10, 1916.  Then he was in M G [machine gun] Co 4 inf PA National Guard until October 21, 1917, when that company became Co A 109 M G Bn until his discharge.

But first, wedding bells rang.  The 1930 census asks what age you were at your first marriage.  Herbert is shown as 23 at his first marriage and Florence Ruth as 17.  I couldn’t locate a marriage record for them, but they were likely married in 1918 before he left on May 7, 1918 to serve overseas in World War I.   A great granddaughter shares some memories of Florence Ruth Parmer:

I have vague memories of Grandma Parmer. I was named after her. I remember going to her house where she had a cedar chest full of greeting cards. She would allow me to look at the cards if I was very careful! I loved this memory so much that I saved every card I was ever given in MY cedar chest so I could do the same with my grandchildren. Unfortunately I won’t have grandchildren so the cards became a casualty during one of my cross country moves but my son still has the cedar chest which is full of family mementos like pictures and Bob’s and my graduation caps and yearbooks. I do have one of her recipes passed down from Mom. She apparently catered for some fancy dinners for the Watts and Shands (of Watt & Shand fame), among others,  and came up with an hors d’oeuvre consisting of pineapple rings stuffed with cherries and cream cheese on a bed of lettuce. We make it at Easter. Mom says she was very proper and fancy.  (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)

The war ended in 1919, and Herbert returned to the United States in March 1919, being discharged from the military in October 1919.

The 1920 census shows Herbert is married at 24 years old, living with Florence Ruth and son Harry, who was one year old.  He was a novelties salesman. They lived at 647 Chester Ave (might actually be Street), next to her parents and siblings.  He’s still listed as a salesman in the 1927 city directory.

Eventually, his family bought a house.  In the 1930 census, his family is shown at 21 East Liberty Street, where they owned a home valued at $8000.  He was 35 years old and was a taxi driver for “Taxi Cab Co.”  The census record states he is a veteran of the World War.  His family lived at East Liberty Street for several years.  The current home at that address, according to zillow.com, was built in 1930, so it would be the same home that the family lived in.

21 east liberty

21 East Liberty is the cream colored house on the left.  Photo from zillow.com

His granddaughter said he suffered from “shell shock”, had TB (possibly from the trenches and gas during the war) and spent time in a sanatorium (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)”.  This is consistent with his filing for veterans compensation in 1934 while living at the VA hospital in Coatesville, PA.  In addition, the 1940 census shows him as an inmate at the Veterans Administration Facility in Chester County at 1400 Blackhorse Hill Road, Caln Township, PA, near Coatesville, where patients were first admitted in 1930, and which was dedicated in 1932.

His granddaughter “said he lived with them in West Willow when she was a kid and she has fond memories of him. She loved him very much.”  She “remembers he used to get his pension check once a month and take them to the West Willow fruit stand to buy them fruit.”  She says one “month he told them he could not take them for fruit and she remembers that night Pappap told them he had died.”  (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)”  Herbert died June 24, 1957 while living at 1938 Willow Street Pike, West Lampeter Township, according to his death certificate.

His granddaughter “credits him with teaching her about edible plants like dandelion, berries, poke, “mustard” and pawpaws. He would take her for long walks in the wood and show her what she could safely eat as well as teach her about other plants like Jack-in-the-Pulpet. (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)”  Also, “He kept an army trunk at the foot of his bed. He would call the kids into his room to sneak Hershey Kisses to them. Nanny (Violet) would holler not to give the kids candy but he would fib that they were playing jacks. He would then throw jacks on the top of the trunk to cover his story! (From notes provided by Sarah (Parmer) Constein)”

jack in the pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, photo compliments of here.


Cousins and Spouses

Last post, we left off with William as a widower and a farmer.  Emma had passed away in April of 1917.  Just a few months later, William’s cousin died.

Benjamin Franklin Parmer died August 7, 1917 of diabetes at the age of 45.  His death certificate list his parents as Abram Parmer and Lillie Eckman.  Abram was the brother of Samuel, and Lillie was the sister of Hetty.  So two brothers, Abram and Samuel, married two sisters, Hetty and Lillie.  That would make Benjamin Franklin Parmer and William Eckman Parmer first cousins.

Somewhere between 1920 and 1927, William moved back to Pennsylvania.  We know this because William shows up in the 1920 census in Florida as a widower, and he shows up in the Lancaster city directory in 1927:

1927– clerk; home at 38 Washington

The 1930 census shows William as married to a Bessie.  William moved back to Lancaster and married his cousin’s widow, Elizabeth Hepburn Powell Parmer.  They are listed as living at 455 S Shippen on the 1930 census records.

Zillow lists 455 S Shippen as being built in 1888.  If that is the case, the current home at that address would be the same home where William and Bessie lived in 1930.

You can see the home on the google map for 455 S Shippen, Lancaster, PA

In 1932, William passed away.  He died of pneumonia, but also had carcinoma of the liver. His death certificate lists his occupation as caretaker of park.


Photo from findagrave.com


He was 62 years old and, it seems, he must have had a very interesting life, although to him, his life may have been nothing special.  What seemingly typical part of your life might be interesting to your future generations?  And what little details about your forefathers might you be able to share as a piece of the puzzle?

Elizabeth (Bessie) Hepburn Powell Parmer continued to live on Shippen Street.  She died September 3, 1966 after a long illness.

Orange Groves and a Ghost Town


William E. and Emma J. Parmer moved from Lancaster, PA to Florida.  I don’t know when or why, but I do know they moved.  They are listed in the 1910 census with all their kids in Lancaster.  William is in the 1911 city directory.  But he’s not listed in the directory in 1913.  So, it’s likely they moved to Florida between 1911 and 1913.

Cousin Millie says William and Emma and some of their children “at some point moved south and lived in Florida and had orange groves in the Orlando area.”

Tragically, Emma died April 10, 1917 at 45 years old.  She had mitral stenosis, which is when the heart’s mitral valve narrows.  The narrowing results in the valve not opening properly, which in turn causes abnormal blood flow into the pumping chamber of the heart.  The most common cause of mitral stenosis is rheumatic fever, which usually  occurs after a person has a step infection like strep throat.  Rheumatic fever was once very common and was the leading cause of death in children.


Emma J. Howe Parmer’s headstone.   Photo from findagrave.com

In the 1920 census, William is listed as a  farmer in Narcoossee, FL with a post office address.  You might have a hard time finding Narcoossee today.   It’s a ghost town!  A search for Narcoossee, FL led to a a ghost town website with a description of Narcoossee, including photos from the general time period.  You can access the website by clicking  here.

According to the website, Narcoossee was a citrus farming area.  So that goes right a long with cousin Millie’s story.

Now we leave William, a widower and a farmer.


William Eckman Parmer at unknown date.  Photo courtesy of Millie Crawford. 


William’s Beginnings in Lancaster

William was born October 27, 1869, the second child, and second son, of Samuel and Hetty. He is shown with his family in the 1870 and 1880 census. On September 3, 1891, William Eckman Parmer and Emma J. Howe were married by Rev. D.W. Gerhard.  Here’s a photo of William and Emma:


Emma J. and William E. Parmer.  Photo courtesy of Millie Crawford.

Over the next several years, William worked at various jobs until he began working as a clerk at a store.  Here’s what we learn from looking at the city directories:

1892 — laborer at 612 S. Duke

1896 — driver, 31 E King; home at 429 Church — a 6 minute walk from home to work

1897 & 1898 — driver; resides at 339 W Marion

1899 — clerk for W D Sprecher Son & Co; resides at 29 Dorwart

1903, 1905, 1907, 1911 — clerk for Sprecher & Ganss (seed and implement establishment); resides at 507 Green

Over this time, William and Emma had their children–Roy, Guy J., Herbert H., Clarence (Nick), Viola, and Franklin William.

Then, sometime betweeen 1911 and 1913, they moved…..to Florida!


A Patriotic Family and Blue Eyes


Happy Independence Day!

Having a family connection to an event always makes it more meaningful.  Finding a connection to 1776 can be a bit tricky.  How patriotic were the Parmers?  Tracing back that far is a bit difficult for the Parmer family.  But many Parmer descendants have served in the military and defended freedom.  Samuel M. Parmer’s son, Robert E. Parmer, had six sons serve in World War I.

Robert E at war memorial

Standing from left, Robert Parmer Sr., wife Esther, son Harry, daughters Myrtle and Mary.  Sitting from left, daughter Betty, granddaughter Shirley, daughter Nancy, son Earl, and daughter Gail.  Children not pictured are Elwood, Robert Jr., Charles, Kenneth, Richard, Samuel, and Jerry.  Taken August 20, 1944 at the dedication of the original World War II memorial in Lancaster, PA.

The photo above was published in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal on May 23, 2004 with an article about Lancaster’s World War II memorial.  According to the article, “The memorial was erected to honor those from the Cabbage Hill neighborhood of Lancaster who served during the second world war.  The names of 160 men are inscribed, including nine who were killed.”  Six of Robert Parmer Sr.’s nine sons served in World War II.

In 1863, the Union instituted a draft for men ages 20-45.  John Parmer, the probable father of Samuel M. Parmer, was 46 years old at the time.

Samuel M. Parmer was 24.  He would have been required to register.  Below is what likely is his record of registration, along with his brother, Daniel.

civil war draft registration excerpt

I could not find any record of Samuel serving in the military, nor could I find any record of his children serving in the military.  However, I did find records of several of his sons’ draft registrations.  All Samuel’s sons who registered for the World War I draft did so in the third draft on September 12, 1918.  Those who registered for the World War II draft did so in the fourth registration, also known as the “Old Man’s Draft,” which was not to enlist soldiers but to determine the skills and abilities of men who could support the war effort at home.

Draft registrations are fun to look at because they have valuable family history information that is not usually found elsewhere, like physical characteristics.  Here’s what we learn from Samuel’s sons’ draft registration cards:

John Jacob and William E. were born after the Civil War ended and were past the age of the draft for the World War I.

Samuel E., World War I registration on 9/12/18, blue eyes & black hair 45 years old, lived at 542 Dauphin Street, worked as a watchman at Donovan Co., a garment manufacturer.

Harry, World War I registration on 9/12/1918, blue eyes & dark hair, 39 years old, lived at 439 E Mifflin Street, worked as boiler foreman at Lancaster Iron Works.

Aldus, World War I registration on 9/12/1918, grey eyes & black hair, 37 years old, lived at 507 Green Street, worked as an auto machinist at Queen Motor Co.

World War II registration on April 27, 1942, 5’5″ tall and 61 years old, grey eyes and grey hair, physically identifying characteristic was  a scar on the end of his index finger on his left hand.  He still lived at 507 Green street and was working at Lancaster City Water Works.

Luther, World War I registration on 9/12/1918, blue eyes & dark hair, 33 years old, lived in Coatesville, worked as a boiler maker at Midvale Steel and Ordinance Company.

World War II registration on April 27, 1942,  5’6″ tall and 56 years old, blue eyes and grey hair. Self employed and living on his farm in Londonderry  Township.

It’s interesting that many of the brothers had blue eyes and dark hair.  And they were not very tall.  I love that this information is preserved!  What do you remember that can be shared and preserved?


Samuel and Hetty’s children


It’s fitting for my first post to be about Samuel and Hetty.  As I began my quest to find living Parmer relatives in Lancaster, PA, my starting point was Samuel Parmer  and Hetty Eckman.  Nine children were born to them in Lancaster.  Surely some descendants would still be living there.

The 1870 census excerpt below, from Ancestry.com, is the first census record showing Samuel and Hetty together.  Their sons, John and William are also shown.

1870 Census Samuel and Hetty cropped

By 1880, John was living as a boarder down the street from the rest of the family.  William still lived at home, along with Margie, Annie, Samuel and Harry, shown in the 1880 Census excerpt below, from Ancestry.com.  Missing is Martha S., born in 1873, after the 1870 census.  She died in 1877, before the 1880 census.

1880 Census Samuel and Hetty cropped

Samuel and Hetty had two more children, Aldus and Luther.  Aldus was born in 1880 after the census was taken.  Luther was born in 1885.  They would have shown up on the 1890 census, but much of that census record was destroyed in a fire.  Aldus married in 1899, before the 1900 census, so he again is not shown living with Samuel.  But the 1900 census does show Luther living with Samuel, as seen in the excerpt below, taken from Ancestry.com.

1900 Census Samuel Parmer

With Samuel and Hetty’s children identified, I began my quest.  Little did I know that finding living relatives is a bit more difficult than finding those who have already passed on.